Henry and I got on the subway and sat next to a man who was, it soon became clear, mentally unwell. Specifically, he was railing against people who were not there, and using all manner of bad words. So I suggested that we move, and we got up and moved, and that was that. Henry was chatting with me and anyone who'd look at him about Bionicles and I was sure he didn't notice a thing.
A few minutes later he asked, "What was wrong with that man?"
So I went on to explain how sometimes people are sick in their heads, and how sad and upsetting is for them.
Henry: Why did we move?
Me: Well, he seemed agitated, and it just seemed better to keep our distance. Did you hear how he was using bad words? He seemed really angry.
Henry: What are bad words?
Me: You know. Curse words. Bad words.
Henry: Yeah, but like what?
Me: Really, you don't know? Do you not live with your dad? Ever heard him after he breaks something?
Henry (lowering his voice conspiratorially): Is shoot a curse word?
Me: Not really, no.
Henry: So tell me a curse word.
Henry: Would you just say one.
Me: I can't curse into your sweet little face. Come on.
Henry: If you don't tell me what a curse is I'll never know what not to say.
Me: Okay. Okay, FINE. Shit.
Henry (loudly): SHIT? SHIT is a curse word? You say SHIT all the time! You curse in front of me!?
Me: I do not. Your father does. Please get the two of us straight.
Henry: I don't know, "shoot" sounds worse to me. Because it's like guns.
Me: You're absolutely right. Stick with "shoot." Much worse.